BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Bad, bad Bubba ...

It is something of a testament to the variety of my reading that this book emerged at the top of my “to be read” pile, not due to any inherent order, but for its amusement value. I am both a fan of Christopher Hitchens and a long-time despiser of the Clintons (causing much cognitive dissonance in my rooting for Jiang QingHitlerythe former First Lady in the final months of the 2008 Democratic primaries) … so, having a combination of Hitchen's acid analysis, and a leftist broadside on the Clintons, promised, if not much hilarity, at least a healthful heaping of schadenfreude. No One Left To Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton certainly did not disappoint on this level, although it wasn't the out-right trash-fest that some of my favorite books on the Clintons have been.

In fact, if there was a bête noire here, it's not Bubba, but the author of many of my favored Clinton texts, Dick Morris. It is evident here that Mr. Hitchens had a particular dislike of Mr. Morris, and this surfaces again and again in the course of this book, like he had been the little “devil” figure perched on the philandering POTUS' shoulder, whispering all the worst ideas into The First Ear. Now, I will admit that most of what I've known about Dick Morris' role in the Clinton political machine (both in Arkansas and DC) comes from his own books, in which, it is fair to assume, he would be unlikely to paint himself too much the villain. However, the level of despite that Hitchens harbored for him is rather remarkable, and came as quite a surprise.

This is not to say that Hitchens excuses the abuses of Bill Clinton because of what he saw as Morris' “evil influence”, or even really suggests that Bubba wouldn't have been as venal without the “Morris factor”. There was certainly enough vileness in the Clinton White House to go around, and the guy behind the big desk is where “the buck stops”. Indeed, at one point, Hitchens notes: “Clinton's private vileness meshed exactly with his brutal and opportunistic public style” … surely nothing more accusatory came from the pens of the likes of Gingrich, et al.

One thing to note, No One Left To Lie To came out in 1999, and was half-written when the Impeachment was happening, so there is both an “immediacy” to those unfolding events, and a lack of a wider “historical context” of how those played out (although there are several very interesting “historical parallels” noted to assorted Clintonian assaults on ethics). The book walks through most of the better-known “abuses of power” of the administration, if in less damning detail than later books, from the selling of the Lincoln Bedroom, to the cozy relations with Chinese intelligence operatives, the flaunting of all fund-raising rules (frequently as flippantly “triangulated” as Clinton's infamous “It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.”), and his random attacks on foreign countries, timed only to deflect the media's attention from embarrassing events at home. Of course, to liberal Hitchens, the “worst” of Clinton appears to be his hijacking of the Republican agenda, in which he time and again created a cynical shadow policy of anything the other side might have wanted to enact. Or, as Hitchens more floridly puts it (in discussing Clinton's concern for “his place in history”): “He will be remembered as the man who used the rhetoric of the New Democrat to undo the New Deal. He will also be remembered as a man who offered a groaning board of incentives for the rich and draconian admonitions to the poor.”

Hitchens despairs the near-universal blanket support (at the time, although the enabling “it's just about sex” parrot chorus is certainly still going strong) for Clinton among the left. His own writings about the abuses of the Clintons appear to have made him “persona non-grata” among many of his erstwhile friends and associates, some of whom would whisper in private that they felt that Clinton should have been Impeached, but for the various abuses of power and blatant disregard for the law, yet none of these would stand against the Clintons when it counted. Again, this book was written in the thick of the battle, and one gets the sense that Hitchens was feeling very isolated and a bit like “a voice in the wilderness” in his willingness to point out what should have been evident to all and sundry.

I wonder if, in the past decade, Hitchens has softened to Morris. After all, some of the most damning information about what happened in the Clinton White House has come from the many books that Morris wrote (including his “counter texts” to Bill and Hillary's much-ballyhooed memoirs). Would this be seen as a redemption, or just another form of despicability?

Anyway, I got the hardcover of this at the big OpenBooks sale a few weeks ago, and it appears to be out of print in this edition (although “very good” used copies start as low as 1¢ via the Amazon new/used guys), but a later, expanded (and re-subtitled to include more about Mrs. Clinton), paperback edition does still seem to be in print. Needless to say, I really wish that a lot of those Liberals out there would sit down and read this, as it's coming from one of “their guys”, and ask themselves why they were such suckers {ahem} for the Clinton regime. For the rest of us, well, it sure is a pleasant change to see somebody on the Left noticing what cretins they have managed to foist on the nation!

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Tags: book review

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